Randy Yerrickand Joseph JohnsonState University of New York at Buffalo
This is a research paper presented from a project out of New York. The goal of the project was to provide middle school teachers with access to training and technology and to incorporate this technology into their science curriculm over the course of a school year in order to evaluate its effectiveness of learning.
2 of 10 science teachers in a local high school in the Buffalo area choose to participate in this project. In return for participating, the teachers received hands on training and support in the summmer to build a curriculm that supported technology in the classroom as well as no less than 5 hours of communication (brainstorming, suggestions, learning) weekly during the calendar year. I found it interesting that only two teachers agreed to participate in the project. Although the article doesn't mention why the other teacher may not have been willing to sign up, it is astonishing to me that teachers wouldn't welcome the support and training to encorporate new tools in the science classroom. So much of the science curriculum requires equipment that schools may not have access to that this offer would provide them access to tools that they may not have access to otherwise.
With eight teachers choosing to not participate, it provided a "quasicontrol" group in order measure data against at the end of the year. What the data showed was a measurable gain in knowledge transfer to the students whose teachers participated. Gains were showed after each unit by testing the gained knowledge of the unit of those with technology to those students not using technology as part of their learning. It also showed in standardized testing at the end of the year. Students of participating teachers did significantly better on the NY standardized test and they had what was estimated to be 5 fewer weeks of review for the NY test.
In addition to the strong results being represented in this paper, the authors also suggest that introducing technology into the classroom without attention to the learning styles of the students and proper preparation and training by the instructor will not yield the same results. Students in debriefing interviews stated that they learned better with the technology being used because they felt connected to it. Had the technology not been a fit for the class, the technology may not have fosted such a strong connection with the lesson and could have had completely different results.
I choose this article because I think that science is a critical area instruction that I would like to teach in. I love that it can open so many doors for students and that it can be such a hands on area of instruction. Though is was much longer than I had anticipated, this article really provided me with some insight into bringing technology into the science classroom ~ what actual technology they used and how it was able to advance the learning of the students and what it took to bring it to the classroom.
A good read for those who are questioning "why technology in the classroom."
Meeting the Needs of Middle Grade Science
Learners Through Pedagogical and Technological